Thalassaemia intermedia should be considered in any chronically anaemic patient presenting fromthe Middle East with hearing impairment. We report here three Saudi siblings with thalassaemia intermedia and features of severe bone marrow expansion, particularly invading the temporal bone. They were seen first for their otological problems before they had access to proper haematological evaluation. One member was admitted for surgical exploration of a cholesteatoma, which was then found to be marrow expansion of the temporal bone. Screening of the family revealed twomore anaemic siblings with thalassaemia intermedia. Audiological examination of all the family members showed that only the two affected members had a high frequency sen-sori-neural hearing loss.
Bone marrow expansion into the temporal bone is a rare feature of thalassaemia intermedia. Cholesteatoma-like lesion has not been previously described. It has to be considered in all cases of symptomatic thalassaemia intermedia manifesting with cavitation and lytic lesions in the mastoid system. The likelihood that sensorineu-ral hearing loss may complicate the thalassaemias israised and the possible mechanism for such involvement discussed. The proper management for different otological manifestations of the thalassaemias is suggested. These cases would suggest amore extensive involvement of the temporal bone in the thalassaemias than has been previously recognized. Further large scale studies are required to illuminate the subject.